After a month of intense political pressure, Andrew Mitchell finally gave up the fight to keep his job last night after admitting he could “no longer fulfil his duties” in the wake of his abuse of a Downing Street policeman.
In a letter announcing his decision to resign, the former Chief Whip again denied that he had called the officer a “pleb” but admitted he had been unprofessional in his conduct. He also admitted for the first time that he had sworn at the officer concerned.
“Whatever the rights and wrongs of the matter I will not be able to fulfil my duties as we would both wish,” he said.
“Nor is it fair to continue to put my family and colleagues through this upsetting and damaging publicity.”
He added: “I did not, never have and never would call a police officer a ‘pleb’ or a ‘moron’ or used any of the other pejorative descriptions attributed to me.
“The offending comment and the reason for my apology was my parting remark: ‘I thought you guys were supposed to f***ing help us’. It was obviously wrong of me to use such bad language and I am very sorry about it.”
Last night, only hours after the resignation, Sir George Young was appointed the new Chief Whip.
It is understood Mr Cameron met Mr Mitchell yesterday after the Prime Minister returned from a European summit in Brussels.
Mr Mitchell made the decision to go on Thursday night and contacted Downing Street asking for a private meeting with Mr Cameron. It was arranged that he would drive down to the Prime Minister's country residence at Chequers, where he told him of his decision to step down.
The former Chief Whip's position became untenable after a meeting of Tory backbenchers on Wednesday night.
Four MPs demanded that he step down while others expressed concern at the damage the affair was doing to the image of the party following a concerted campaign by the Police Federation.